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Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  85 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In 1964, at the age of three, Tim Bascom is thrust into a world of eucalyptus trees and stampeding baboons when his family moves from the Midwest to Ethiopia. The unflinchingly observant narrator of this memoir reveals his missionary parents' struggles in a sometimes hostile country. Sent reluctantly to boarding school in the capital, young Tim finds that beyond the gates ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 14th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jun 06, 2015 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The son of medical missionaries, Tim Bascom and his three brothers moved to Ethiopia when he was only four. His six-year-old brother was immediately left at boarding school, miles away from his family, and didn't get to see them for months. Three years later, Tim joined him, and writes about being consumed with sobs at being so far from his family and in the midst of strangers. The school treated the children well and it was a huge improvement over local schools, yet Tim felt abandoned, and he d ...more
This is a book about growing up in Ethiopia, but not really: far more than that it is about growing up in a missionary family in Ethiopia, which is a different beast altogether.

Very young when he moved there, the author lived in a mission house, went to an American-run boarding school, and had almost no interaction with native Ethiopians who were not connected to the mission or the school. I don’t fault Bascom for this — again, he was young — but it must have made for an upbringing both exotic a
Jul 25, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethopia, africa
These are the memories of the middle child of a couple who served as missionaries in Ethiopia in the 1960's. Tim was 3 years old when he first arrived. The book covers his parents' tours of 5 years, making him 8 years old at the book's end.

It's hard to imagine such an observant 3 year old, but, this is a child living in a highly insecure environment. A perfect metaphor occurs at the start when Tim and his older brother arrive on Ethiopian soil and run. Miraculously they stop at the edge of a cli
Jane Hoppe
Full of descriptions of simple, imaginative childhood games and the universal desire to belong, Chameleon Days resonates with me on several levels. Although young Tim Bascom’s games took place mostly in Ethiopia—a country I’ve never visited—as I read Bascom’s memoir, I found myself repeating, “Oh, yes, now I remember, my brother and I played that game, too.” And the young author’s feelings of separation came because he attended boarding school far from where his missionary parents were stationed ...more
Aug 21, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ok. Interesting...but really should be titled something like "An American Missionary Childhood." Not really much about Ethiopia here.
Tim Bascomb is the son of American missionaries, and, as a result, spent much of his childhood in Ethiopia in the 1960's.

Like the children of many former missionaries, he had to adapt and make adjustments to Western culture on his return to the United States. Unlike many that I've read about, he seems to have done a good job of adapting.

I also really like that he seems to be particularly clear-sighted about religion and about his past experiences. His views, on the whole seem very balanced, IMO.
Pete Williamson
Apr 05, 2011 Pete Williamson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
frankly, I had pretty high hopes for this autobiography of a child growing up in Haille Salassie's Ethiopia as the child of missionary parents, but I in the end I came away not really knowing much more about Ethiopia or what it was like to live there. I was hugely relieved that Bascom did not give us another Franky Schaeffer treatment of his growing up years.
Rachel N
Chameleon Days provides a view of Ethiopia through the eyes of a western child (in the 1970s). It is a well written memoir touched with sadness, and a vulnerable account of the challenges field-missionaries face.
Apr 19, 2008 Clinton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. The memoir offers a reflection on the missionary experience as a child-in-tow. Without pretension or agenda, Mr Bascom maintains a child's innocence while deftly weaving reflection throughout.
This one almost rated 4 stars. Hey, it did earn the the "Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize". It is the story of a young boy as his family serves as missionaries in Ethiopia.
May 03, 2008 Corey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Corey by: Claudia Brown
Shelves: read-in-2006
This was my first contextual introduction to Ethiopia, where I moved in September 2006. In the year and a half I've lived here, I've come to appreciate and understand this book even more.
Saturday's Child
Oct 12, 2009 Saturday's Child rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written and facinating account of a childhood spent in the wonderful country of Ethiopia. It really wet my appetite for travel to Ethiopia.
Oct 30, 2012 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at Ethiopia as seen from a young boy's eyes while his parents were missionaries in the country during the 1960s.
May 19, 2011 Humkeb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting.
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